Things to consider when appointing a web design agency

There are lots of things to take into account when embarking on a website design project.  Choosing the right web partner, who can generate content, understand SEO and create a suitable design is really important.

Here are some things to consider when deciding on a web design agency:

What type of websites have they designed before?

Take a look at the type of websites the agency has designed before, which should be shown as case studies on their own website.  Write a brief where you ask the agency to send links to previous websites and a couple of contacts for references.  If you are a B2B company, such as a manufacturer or construction business, then it’s important to choose a company that has experience in creating industrial sites.

If the agency has only designed b2c websites, then it may be the case that their style is not right for your audience.  If you can see that they have created websites for similar organisations and they look good and achieve a good ranking, then there’s a higher chance of success with your site.

Who is going to write the content?

An important question to determine at the beginning of a website design project; who is going to write the content.  Content is the main sticking point when a new website is being designed.  The reason is that most web design companies do not have the skills in-house to generate good quality content.   This is the reason why many business to business clients choose to work with Dragonfly PR as we can generate good quality, SEO friendly content, without relying on the client to do so.  Often copy is simply copied and pasted from an old site to a new one – it’s really obvious when this is done and it is definitely not the best way to go!

If you choose a web company that has the ability in-house to generate content then it means they can take care of this and ensure the website progresses to meet its deadline.

Is SEO included?

Check with the web agency whether they will carry out on-site optimisation for the website before it is launched and whether that is included in the price.  Some web companies will carry out very little optimisation but charge this as a separate fee afterwards.  Make clear to the web agency that you want them to add relevant page titles, meta tags and title tags, based on their keyword research.  If you have done keyword research yourself, share that with them – it’s all about being open and transparent and helping them to do the best job possible! 

Do you want a back-end CMS systems?

The majority of websites these days are set up with a Content Management Systems that enable you to update your content without having to ask an external provider to do this.  Ask what CMS system they are offering and make sure that full training for you and any other marketing staff, is available within the website fee.

Do you want a blog/news?

These days adding regularly updated new content is essential, so make sure that you have the ability to add news or blogs to your website.  You should be aiming to add at least one or two items of news or blogs each month, as part of enhancing Google search and the visibility of your website against key search terms.

What are you hoping to achieve through the website?

It is very important as you embark on a new website design to consider what you are hoping to achieve from the website and to set some targets.  For example, are you expecting to increase web visitors by a certain percentage?  What goals will you set up to monitor its success?  What you really need to ask yourself is what does success look like with the website?  Ask other senior colleagues their expectations are from the website and then communicate this to the web design agency.

Do you want the agency to source photos, organise photoshoots or do you have a library already?

Good photographs and imagery are what really make a website.  At the start of any website project, it is important to spend time sourcing images, either from your own archive, or deciding whether you will commission photoshoots to ensure you have the right type of images.  If you don’t have enough images, it is a good idea to book a photographer for a day or more to take shots of your products or out on site carrying out a service.  Make sure you have a list of the required images and have everything is set up for when the photographer arrives on the day, to save time.  Commissioning your own photos is the best way, but make sure you have the image rights on the photograph or the approval of the photographer to use them on the website.  If you need any supplementary images, then ask your web agency to source them through the image libraries.

Who’s going to be the point of contact for the web agency?

Make sure you allocate someone to the website who has the time and authority level to approve content and can give the time and input as required to approve it.  A redesign of a website can take several months.  However, that process can be speeded up if someone is available to approve various stages of the design of the site so it can go live as soon as possible.  It is important to note that once the website has design approval, the agency will go ahead with that build based on that design.  If there are later changes to the design, this could occur more cost, so make sure all relevant people have seen the design and approved it before it goes to build stage.

Consider languages – just UK or international?

Do you trade internationally, or would you like to?  It’s worth considering the option of translation of the website into different languages.  There are some really good global language tools available these days to do this.  Whether you require a translation of the site into other languages should form part of the brief.  Ask the agency what tools they would use and if there is a facility to add other languages, should you need them.

Is an e-commerce facility needed?

This is an obvious consideration, but the question often arises and if you are a business that trades online, then this is a given.  However if you don’t currently trade online, but would like to do so in the future, this is when you need to brief the agency about setting up the website with the possibility of an e-commerce function in the future.

If this is not designed into the site at this stage, then it may mean that in 12 months’ time, if you decide to sell online, major changes will have to be made to the website structure, or the web agency may recommend it is completely rebuilt – which could be expensive.

It may be the case that it’s best to build this functionality into the design at this stage, even if it doesn’t get used until a later date.  

Do you want to monitor website performance yourself?

Make sure that you ask your web agency to integrate Google Analytics code within your website, so you can access your website’s statistics and traffic.  This will give you a better insight into traffic levels and pages that are performing well and less well.

Are you able to commit to an ongoing SEO campaign?

It is common practice to pay an ongoing fee for SEO services once the site has launched and you should ask your web company to quote for this, but ask them to outline what is included and to ensure you are provided with a monthly report.  If you have the budget available then opt for an ongoing SEO campaign, alongside a PR campaign, when a new website is launched.  This should be built into the marketing budget, as an important part of ensuring that a new website achieves the website traffic it deserves.

For more advice on design and launch of a new website, contact our web team at Dragonfly on 01709 300130 or email:  We specialise in design for business to business websites, particularly in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Call us on: 0114 349 5341